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Kahne released by RPM effective immediately
RPM announced Kahne was out of the No. 9 Ford effective immediately, and Aric Almirola would drive the car this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Almirola had been on NASCAR’s entry list to drive the No. 83 Toyota for Red Bull.
But the plans apparently were scrapped after Kahne’s blowup Saturday night when his brakes failed at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kahne exploded in anger on the radio when his brakes failed for the third time this season, second time in two races.
It led to a wreck with Sam Hornish Jr., and Kahne refused to get back in the car after it was repaired. He cited illness for not going back on the track, and the team used J.J. Yeley to finish the race.
Although Kahne said he did throw up Saturday night, he was well enough to participate in a 5K run for his foundation the next morning.
“I lost it,” he said after his run. “I was just mad. I came into the race thinking we had a shot to win, thinking we had a good car in practice, we had a good shot. It went green. We were a little bit tight, but still actually passed cars and really felt good and then boom, my brakes are gone.
“It’s not like you have half-brakes, like you can pump them. Your foot goes to the floor. It bottoms out. It’s a joke.”
The release brings an early end to a rocky final two years in Kahne’s tenure with the team. He said this spring he would drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, and he recently decided to drive for Red Bull next season as a one-year stopgap until he can succeed Mark Martin in the No. 5 car.
Kahne has gone through phases of discontent with his race team since initial owner Ray Evernham sold majority interest to George Gillett Jr. The team underwent a myriad of changes, Evernham eventually left the organization, and what was left merged with Petty Enterprises before last season.
Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis spent all of last season working as if they were a single-car team, tuning out the distractions of Gillett’s financial issues and RPM’s struggles. It worked to some degree as Kahne won two races and made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
“I’m not going to say names, but I was told that I need to start doing my part,” he said of an unnamed RPM employee. “I can’t control the issues I’ve had this year. I don’t know how many parts I’ve broke. If I really thought about it, I could come up with all kinds of stuff.
“You can’t control that as a driver. I’m doing my part. I just need the car. I work as hard as anybody out there.”
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